On a beautiful April night, the conditions were ripe for a competitive night of baseball between two talented Texas teams. But when Texas hosted Houston on Tuesday night, the game turned sloppy in a hurry.
Texas beat Houston, 9-4, at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The score, however, did not tell the full story of the game. The two teams combined for a total of 10 pitchers, 10 walks, five hit batsmen and just 11 hits over the course of the night.
Texas head coach David Pierce acknowledged his team’s underwhelming performance, but had a gratifying attitude about the victory.
“Never had a bad win,” Pierce said. “It was ugly, but we’ll take it. We’ll move on and learn from it. We were just fortunate to win the game.”
The game, which began worse than it ended, started off on a sour note. Redshirt freshman starting pitcher Tristan Stevens, in his second start of the season, was pulled after recording only one out. After struggling with control and loading the bases, he was pulled in favor of freshman reliever Bryce Elder.
“The thing that concerned me (about Stevens) was not that he struggled early, but (that) I didn’t see the pitches we’ve been seeing,” Pierce said. “His breaking ball was really big, and he throws a tight slider. His change-up is always down, and his fastball has more life. So I just felt like, at that point, it’s a start that says ‘disaster.’ And so we had to make a move
Elder limited the scoring, only allowing one run on the inning. He threw two more innings and allowed another earned run. His role in controlling the damage was vital for Texas, which maintained a close lead in the early part of the ballgame.
“I thought Bryce did a good job of settling it down,” Pierce said. “He kind of controlled it and avoided the big inning. And that’s what we needed right there.”
Elder was then pulled in favor of true freshman Nico O’Donnell, who at one time, was the unquestioned Tuesday starting pitcher. O’Donnell has been through his fair share of struggles, but seemed to get back into his rhythm Tuesday night as he recorded more innings (3.2, 1 ER) than any other member of the staff. Pierce acknowledged his young pitcher’s recent struggles and said that he’s trying to get them to believe in themselves more.
“Right now, we’re just going through some young guys going through some confidence issues, and continuing to get better,” Pierce said. “We’re trying to get them to pick up their rhythm, trying to pick up their arm speed. We’re trying to get them to trust, trust, trust their stuff in the strike zone.”
One of the more unusual occurrences from the game was not that Texas only recorded four hits as a team, but that all of the hits came from only two players. The Longhorns’ No. 7 and No. 8 batters, sophomore outfielder Duke Ellis and junior catcher DJ Petrinsky, each recorded a pair of hits Tuesday night and were the only players to make it to base on something other than a fielder’s choice, walk or being hit by a pitch.
“I think we had great discipline,” Petrinsky said. “Not a lot of strikes. We didn’t pitch at some of the pitches they wanted us to swing at. It was pretty good.”
Texas (29–15, 11–4 Big 12) will return to Big 12 play this weekend when it faces West Virginia in Morgantown at Monongalia County Ballpark. First pitch for Friday’s game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.